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CFO becomes 'chief data corralling officer'

By Stern Curator on 27/04/16 9:58 AM

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As enterprises struggle to cope with an increasing deluge of data, chief financial officers are taking on a role of consolidating data to provide a ‘single source of truth’ about the enterprise, which is an important contributor to success.

That conclusion comes from a global survey of 435 CFOs undertaken by Adaptive Insights, a company providing corporate performance management software. “Today’s finance leaders are facing an increasing responsibility in their organisations,” the report of the survey says. “They are pushed not only for a historical view of finance and operational data, but a forward-looking view that enables them to make informed, strategic decisions.”

This, it says “brings both opportunity and challenge to the office of the finance, as CFOs navigate the increase in and veracity of data from multiple sources and break down data silos.”

The report says that having a single source of data carries significant benefits. “The highest performing organisations rely on data to drive decisions. … Whether big or small, public or private, or for-profit or non-profit, today’s CFOs across organisations of all sizes and across all industries are requiring a single source of truth.

“[It] stops the debate over whose numbers are correct and refocuses the discussion on insights and action. Achieving a single source enables a consistent view of data across the organisation in real time, eliminates confusion among competing data sets, and encourages velocity of decision-making.”

The majority of CFOs surveyed said that keeping data siloed (69 percent) and having inaccurate data for forecasting and planning (40 percent) were among the top financial mistakes most companies make.

However achieving a single source of data is a growing challenge. 

Not only are data volumes increasing but the type of data CFOs must manage is also increasing. “Non-financial data is playing a greater role for CFOs, as they are now managing data from multiple sources across the organisation,” the report says. “This requires collaboration and access to data at a level not previously experienced.”

Forty one percent of CFOs responding to the survey said they manage data from three to five source systems; another 30 percent manage data from five or more source systems.

"It is clear that CFOs are navigating through unchartered waters,” the report concludes. “Tasked with managing a deluge of data from multiple sources across the organisation, there is an expectation of CFOs and their teams that they can aggregate, accurately process, and interpret the data for actionable insights across the business.”

The report advices CFOs that want to be strategic to “evaluate the tools, processes and structures they use today and target technology that will help them thrive in this new world of data.”

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